Today is my anniversary. I’ve been married for 23 years. As we celebrate this year, it feels like recently we know both people getting divorced even after the 20 year mark and younger folks  asking us how we are doing it.

We think there are a couple of really important things we’ve done that have helped but marriage is also a constant give and take. It’s work to keep a marriage alive and happy and it changes over time! It’s not something you put on the back burner like a pot of soup and hope won’t burn. You have to regularly bring the “pot of soup” to the front of the stove and stir it. Making sure to add some attention to it often. So it won’t burn. This is the same with a marriage.

Here’s our short list of what has helped us continue to foster what we feel is a pretty successful relationship.

Forgive your spouse. No one is perfect. They are going to be annoying, forget something you’ve asked them to do. Get angry sometimes. To err is human and we are all human. Assuming that you can cool off and let things go. Remember that we all make mistakes and forgiveness will make a huge difference in the long run. Also, this probably needs to be a two way street.

Accept your spouse. The small quirks that your spouse had when you are younger can become the things about them that is the most annoying over the long term. You have to work with what you have. You will very likely not change your spouse. For example, over the years, I have accepted that my husband doesn’t like loud, busy places or big parties/events as much as I do. So we have compromised over the years. Sometimes I’ll go alone and that’s okay. If he does join me than I have to be aware that he won’t be able to stay as long as I would and I am conscious of that. Acceptance and compromise is part of a long working relationship.

Find activities you love to do together AND find activities for yourself to do apart. We all need our hobbies and the things we feel passionate about. Find some that you do together and it’s perfectly fine to have those that you enjoy solo. But that balance is key. We made date night a priority when the kids were little – even if that meant calling 5 girls to get 1 to babysit. And by the way, date night allows time for romance. Heck yes! That is a HUGE piece of a successful marriage, because if you aren’t getting romance/sex from your spouse, perhaps you will be looking for it somewhere else. We love going to the movies, trying new restaurants, hanging out at the book store and a few other things. But we also have our own individual passions that don’t overlap at all. Make the space/time to come together to do things regularly and give each other space to do your own things as well.

Laugh a lot. OMG! We laugh at ourselves and each other a ton. You have to. Life throws some difficult stuff your way and if you are with a long term partner you will experience all of that. So make time to laugh together. Watch comedies together, tell each other jokes and just try and see life with a bit of humor sometimes. I know my husband still thinks one of my greatest assets is my sense of humor, because that means I’ll laugh at all of his quips and quibbles!

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you have fun if you have a sweetie. If you find yourself this year without someone, be sure to give that love to someone else, you! Check out my first one minute act of kindness mitzvah video: Alone on Valentine’s Day? It’s Okay!